All posts by Deardra Shuler

Deardra Shuler has experience in theatre, music, concert promotion, television and publishing. She was affiliated with the Negro Ensemble Company and is a former manager of the children’s theatre,”TADA.” She has produced and promoted concerts in Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, and Radio City Music Hall. Ms. Shuler is the former Editor and Managing Editor of three New York City minority newspapers. Presently, she is the Entertainment Editor of The Black Star News. As a freelance writer she writes for several New York City newspapers; including the Examiner, Amsterdam News and Eurweb. Deardra has columns in Sweden and in California. She is the former PR chairman for the FESPACO film festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Africa, and is presently program manager for where she also hosts her own show "Topically Yours."

People of Note: Jazz Forum Celebrates 35 Years

Jazz Musicians participating in the Jazz at 35! show

*Jazz may have birthed out of slavery but over the years it has taken on many forms. While some say jazz is difficult to define, most agree its key component is improvisation.

A music that took shape from the repetitive call and response hollers of African American slaves working on plantations to embody their blues, jazz has grown into a force to be reckoned with.  Eventually, Dixieland jazz was conceived in New Orleans, and then the swing era brought in the big bands, although later bebop shifted the music back to small groups.

Cords and rhythms changed offering freedom of composition as various harmonies and rhythms developed that defined the altering styles that denote jazz as a truly American creative art form defying boundaries.

On Saturday, June 28th at 8:00 pm nearly 30 jazz greats will come together to offer one of the greatest tributes to jazz experienced on a single stage.  Trumpeter, Executive Director and Jazz Forum Founder, Mark Morganelli, is bringing together jazz alumni to honor the Jazz Forum he established on June 29, 1979 in the East Village in Manhattan. This collection of renowned jazz musicians consisting of artists the likes of Lee Konitz, Larry Willis, Michele Rosewoman, John Burr, Marion Cowings, Charli Persip, T.S. Monk, Candido, David Amram, Bobby Sanabria, Wallace Roney, Steve Turre, Ronnie Cuber, Valery Ponomarev and Bob Mover, to name a few, will celebrate the 35th anniversary of Jazz Forum via Jazz Forum at 35! as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival held at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, located at 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square in Manhattan.

“When I established the Jazz  Forum back in 1979, which is almost 35 years to the date of the June 28th show, it was to create opportunities for musicians who at the time weren’t playing many gigs in more established clubs like the Village Vanguard, Fat Tuesday’s or Sweet Basil which were booking the likes of Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and major artists like that.  When I first opened, I started off with trumpeter Dizzy Reece the first weekend and booked Clifford Jordan the second week.  Before long I had jazz going 7 nights a week, a Sunday Singer’s Brunch and even had Barry Harris conducting a jazz workshop at the loft that contained the Jazz Forum for 3 years before we moved to a bigger loft on Bleecker Street.,” recalled Mark who later established Jazz Forum Arts.


“I plan to open the Saturday, June 28th show with a quartet comprised of Sonny Fortune, Kenny Barron, Ray Drummond and Billy Hart which is just about the finest quartet you can assembly in straight ahead jazz.  These are legends still playing at the top of their game.  Vic Juris and Dave Stryker will play as a guitar duo.  Dave will remain on stage where Cameron Brown and Michael Carvin will join him with bass and drums afterwards.  And 92 year old Jon Hendricks will collaborate with pianist Steve Ash,” promised Morganelli, who also presents free summer concerts in Westchester County.

The monies from the concert will help benefit Morganelli’s 33 free concerts shown in  6 venues on Wednesdays evenings in Dobbs Ferry and a show in Tarrytown on a 67 acre site for 8 Thursday evenings in July and August.  He does a musical series at Pierson Park on Fridays in August, as well as shows in White Plains, Greenwich, CT and at John Jay College in NYC.  Interested parties can find out more about these shows by visiting

Billy Hart

Billy Hart

“I am delighted to participate in the Jazz Forum at 35! event,” said T.S. Monk.  “You know financially a career in show biz does not leave individuals, especially jazz professionals much to lean on because they are farther down on the financial ladder.  There is a misconception that fame comes with great wealth.  This is show business.  People see the show but they do not see the business. The business is tough and will continue to be tough.  On the positive side, Mark through the Jazz Forum, has been a launch pad for so many great artists with many wonderful evenings at the loft. There were so many great events at the Jazz Forum it’s difficult to isolate one particular evening. There is a great deal of room for so many wonderful memories,” stated the famed drummer/vocalist/composer.

“I was a child of the 1960s and a young jazz musician of the ’70s.  As the jazz clubs diminished in number there were no places to work so we did the boogaloo gigs which were basically R&B gigs.  It was the infusion of the young jazz musicians that created the classic era that culminated with bands like Earth Wind and Fire. The music expanded exponentially as the result of Herbie Hancock bringing the electric piano to the music,; the likes of Wes Montgomery bringing a whole new kind of rhythm sound and by the harmonic innovations created by the likes of my father, Thelonious Monk.  The most influential period for jazz on American music actually came during that period some believe was the dead period for jazz,” continued Monk who started his career as an R&B artist during the period that jazz artists found work in jazz scarce.  T.S. Monk’s most recent recording is entitled Verbiest and Monk, Father and Son.

Tickets for Jazz Forum at 35! on Saturday, June 28th can be purchased at the NYU Skirball Center Shagan box office by calling 866-811-4111. For additional information on Jazz Forum Arts call 888-99-BEBOP or visit


People of Note: ‘Remembering Michael Jackson’ at Lehman Center

PeteCarter4 (1) (Small)

*As many of us know, Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009.  It’s hard to believe that it has been five years since his death.

But to commemorate his passing and to remind the world how much we miss Michael, creator, producer and director Darrin Ross has put together a show in memory of Michael which is nothing less than spectacular.

Via his show, “Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson,” fans will once again be able to connect with the spirit of the beloved performer.  The show featuring impersonators Jibreel Moray (young Michael) Pete Carter (dancing Michael) and Jeffrey Perez (live concert Michael) will showcase at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, in the Bronx, on Saturday, June 21st at 8:00 pm.

When asked about the enormity of putting together the extravaganza, Ross remarked, “To put the project together you have to be a 100% fan and lover of Michael Jackson, his music and his legacy of videos.  You have to admire the things Michael did and to honor him, try and bring a piece of that magic to the stage, which I hope I’ve done in creating the show, “Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson,” stated the producer. “Naturally, I cannot do it alone. The cast has passionately endeavored to keep the positive memory of Michael alive.  Every year we recreate the production and bring it to the most stellar level.  This year, with the release of the new album Xscape, we have decided to reinterpret a bit of this new production and do some new songs live on stage. People will be surprised by impersonator Jeffrey Perez, who is an amazing vocal impersonator of Michael Jackson.  He is going to blow your mind on June 21st when we bring the show to Lehman Center.  Jeffrey brings back the spirit of Michael like no other.  It will be as if you are hearing Michael alive on the stage again,” continued Darrin.

Pete Carter another impersonator, has worked with Darrin Ross on various other productions and used his talents as a visionary and performer to join Ross in coming up with various concepts and surprises for the show.  “Since the amazing hologram performance did happen, we are going to recreate that on stage with Pete Carter.  This is the MJ tribute you do not want to miss; fans are going to be amazed, “claims Ross who stated he is always trying to be an innovator who introduces different ideas and people to his production.  As part of the show, Ross is featuring guest performances by the fabulous Harlem GospeLive singers; the American Beat-boxer Kenny Muhammad, the Human Orchestra; a Lite feet dance performance by NYC’s own W.A.F.F.L.E., as well as breathtaking visuals and a live band with master percussionists and singers.

Jibreel Moray

Jibreel Moray as the young Michael

“When I create a show, I look at a production as if MJ was in the audience himself. I think would Jackson like the show?  I imagine that if Michael would give me a standing ovation, I’ve done my job.  That is the barometer I try to stick to,” stated the show’s creator.

Ross started his career in the 1980s doing musical production.  In the ‘90s, he went into TV and did national TV and radio production.  He started in theater with the dance company, Rennie Harris’s Puremovement. Harris was the pioneer of hip hop dance theatre.  Mr. Ross has done plays, scores for ballets with Judith Jamison and Robert Battle of Alvin Ailey.  He has done hip hop productions.  He is a man that loves to take things to another level.

“We all miss MJ dearly and when you see people representing him or imitating him, this brings back the feelings people had when they first heard an MJ song or watched one of his videos or danced to his music. A lot of people saw the Music Award show and some liked the hologram while others didn’t, but what the hologram did was bring that positive feeling fans had when Michael was alive and you waited for him to appear on stage.  The audience will definitely relive that feeling again via the Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson show. We do the things that are different like Slave to the Rhythm and Love Never Felt so Good.  If you love Michael Jackson’s music and love his legacy, you have to see this show!” claimed Darrin.

Jeffrey Perez at the age of one was already bouncing around to Michael Jackson’s “Bad” Album. “The “Bad” album had just come out at that time.  A lot of children loved MJ, me included” stated Jeffrey Perez.  “At the age of One, I could hardly talk but I tried to dance to the song.  Even as a child, I felt like I was supposed to be an entertainer of some sort.  I had no idea it would be impersonating Michael Jackson, but that is what it turned out to be.  As soon as I am in costume, I start channeling Michael.  During the time I am performing on stage, I actually feel I am being Michael in some form or another,” remarked Jeffrey.

mikejack“There are not a lot of people who perform some of the songs I do.  I will be performing songs from the new album Xscape during the show. Everyday, I listen to a Michael song or watch a video in order to prepare.  Michael is part of my life.  It’s almost like studying for a test you have to review. I’ve done MJ so much that I no longer have to review. I try to stay as close to the image of Michael Jackson as I can,” remarked the Phoenix native, who also does his own show call the Legend Show when he is not performing as an MJ impersonator with the Invincible show.

For tickets to “Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson” on June 21, call the Lehman Center Box Office at 718-960-8833 or through online access at

Michael Bolton

People of Note: Michael Bolton Croons in the Bronx

Michael Bolton

*Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is bringing its 33rd season to a conclusion in August. It will feature singer/songwriter Michael Bolton on June 7, followed by a tribute to Michael Jackson on June 21, wherein audiences will be treated to 3 impersonators and never heard before Michael Jackson songs. The season will then close out with salsa great Willie Colon on August 16th.

Yet to bring all these headliners to the Performing Arts Center in the Bronx, Lehman Center must conduct periodic fundraisers. Therefore, the venue will be holding a fundraising reception June 7th from 6pm-7:30 pm preceding Michael Bolton’s concert at 8:00 pm.

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“Michael Bolton is one of my favorite performers, so I am thrilled to have him come to our location at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West in the Bronx. Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is a non profit organization and in order to bring these big named celebrities we must do fundraisers. I have put together a committee of very influential people to do a fundraising reception which will be held in the lobby of Lehman Center’s concert hall” explained Eva Bornstein, the Executive Director of Lehman Center for the Performing Arts. “We are celebrating the appearance of Michael Bolton and I am also delighted to have the famous pianist Chris Gillespie, a regular at the Hotel Carlyle where he replaced Bobby Short, agree to play at the reception.”

Radio and TV host Max Tucci of Eye on South Florida along with Brie Bythewood will act as hosts for the reception. Max, a good friend of Eva’s, has hosted several fundraising events. He is a renaissance man, independently wealthy, well connected and interested in people. He will be bringing several famous people to the gala reception. Tucci will fly in from Miami to help host and co-chair the event with Brie Bythewood who was the star of Blood Sweat and Heels, a reality show about young beautiful NY women trying to make it big in NYC. Some of the many influential people attending from all walks of life are Franchesca Biondo, Lenny Caro (Pres of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce); Conductor Thomas Crawford of the American Classical Orchestra; Photographer Rowena Husbands who photographs Broadway stars; Designer Farah Angsana, Robert Sancho, VP of Bronx Lebanon Hospital and the various Lehman Center board members.

“People often think that the Bronx is dangerous. So I want to stress that Lehman Center has a beautiful campus, great security, and the area is quite safe. Yet, people have reservations about coming to the Bronx which we need to dispel. People also think the Bronx is too far to come from Manhattan, but I live in El Barrio and it only takes 20 minutes by the #4 train. People can also take the D train. As it happens, we have people coming from all the boroughs, from the Westchester area, Connecticut and even from England, Brazil, Japan, etc. We have a 2300 seat auditorium which is equivalent to any major theater and our shows are more affordable than were audience members to see the same artists in Manhattan. Michael Bolton always puts on a spectacular show, so I encourage people to come to his performance. I might also note that tickets for children are only $10,” continued Ms. Bornstein.


The Performing Arts Center has two levels of donation for those who wish to help support the Center – $100 and $200, plus the price of the ticket. All donations are fully tax deductible. Food and wine for the gala is being donated by Bronx vendors. Lehman Center sits in a relatively Black and Latino Community, so keeping that in mind when booking, Eva is planning performances for their 34th Season such as the National Mexican Orchestra, Tango from Argentina, and the National Ballet of Spain. However, she books shows with everyone in mind so there is a huge variety of headliners and types of shows. Eva is still booking the new season, therefore interested individuals can check out the upcoming season as posted over the summer at


Those folks, who want to buy tickets to Michael Bolton’s upcoming concert on June 7th, or attend the gala, can find info on line at or call 718-960-8833.

tonya pinkins

People of Note: Tonya Pinkins and Roscoe Orman Appear in ‘The Fabulous Miss Marie’


*”The Fabulous Miss Marie,” an Ed Bullins’ play directed by Woodie King, Jr., is being featured at the Castillo Theatre, located at 543 West 42nd Street in Manhattan and will run until May 18th.

“The Fabulous Miss Marie” stars Drama Desk Award winner Tonya Pinkins, as Miss Marie, a former show girl and Roscoe Orman (Sesame Street), who plays Marie’s husband Bill Horton, a parking valet and womanizer.  Together, Marie and Bill are the fun loving 1960s very odd couple who love to drink and throw parties while pretending that everything is wonderful in their lives all the time, despite civil rights about to explode outside their door. Bill and Marie are oblivious to the suffering of others.  As long as their shallow little world keeps rolling along, Bill and Marie dance their little jigs and sing their little happy drunken songs living life as one big party.

Marie is no saint either. She has mini affairs with some of the male hangers-on that frequent their home, individuals like Steve (Ugo Chukwu), Art (Ashley C. Turner), Marco (Michael Chenevere), and Bud (G. Alverez Reid).  Given Marie’s wandering eye, her stud Art is feeling insecure.  He knows he cannot stay at the Horton home forever but for now, it’s a place to crash while he plans his next move.  Meanwhile, he keeps himself busy doing little chores, servicing Marie and worrying about whether another stud will cash in on what he has going with Marie.

We discover that Marie lives a delusional tawdry middle class life in LA, dressing in low cut revealing too tight sexy dresses while Bill sees himself as some kind of song and dance man. Bill makes enough money parking cars in Beverly Hills to keep up their shallow lifestyle, which is financially better off than the majority people of color during the 1960s.  Bill is a drunk who keeps a white woman, his baby’s mama, on the side.  This is a sore spot for Marie who also drinks far too much.  Marie had an abortion that left her unable to have children but pretends she is just fine without them. But as long as Bill keeps the money rolling in, Marie is prepared to ignore his affairs, especially since she is having clandestine affairs of her own.  Thing is, Bill loves Marie and cannot function without her.  He has no intention of ever leaving Marie and their pseudo fabulous life which is packed with faux friends who parade in and out of the Horton home. Part of maintaining their middle class life style is to associate with the type of people who remain just as disconnected, unaware and uncaring about the impending Watts Riot as the Hortons. None of them possess integrity. The Horton’s friends are mostly parasites who leech off them.

The only person who demonstrates any community consciousness or honor is Gaffney portrayed by Beethovan Oden who adds humor as the Dashiki wearing uptight Black militant who tries to convert Art.  However, Art wants nothing to do with what Gaffney is selling especially since Gaffney is so rigid he comes off as goofy.


While attractive, Bill Horton is reminiscent of a smarmy snake charmer who even hits on his wife’s niece (Brittany N. Williams) who herself is directionless. Yet both he and Marie have a vulnerability that has some appeal to the viewer.  The constant glee that Marie and Bill exhibit is somewhat comical and endearing if not bewildering, as they insist on being what they view as fabulous, irrespective of how garish, and despite what goes on around them.  Marie’s girlfriends get indignant when Bill humiliates Marie by dragging his white woman to all the haunts he hangs out with Marie. Yet these same female friends (Toccarra Cash, Aaliyah Habeeb) flirt with each other’s men, including Marie’s boy toys, even sleeping with them.

I am uncertain what message playwright Ed Bullins was attempting to impart via his play “The Fabulous Miss Marie.” Unless he was attempting to show vulnerability, avarice, fragility and hypocrisy as it occasionally lies within human nature regardless of what class system they find themselves in.

If you enjoy light comedy and like a little fun and silliness, “The Fabulous Miss Marie” is the production for you.  So, get down to the Castillo Theatre before it ends on May 18th.

Deardra Shuler is a well published journalist who has profiled celebrities and written about people of note for many years. In addition to her column at, she is the host of her radio show “Topically Yours” on Interested parties can acquire info regarding Deardra through,, Facebook and Google. Contact her via: [email protected].


People of Note: Jose Feliciano Takes the Stage at Lehman

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*Multi-Award winning Latin singer, composer and guitarist, Jose Feliciano, will be back at LehmanCenter for the Performing Arts in the Bronx after a four year absence.  The singer appeared at Lehman in 2006, 2008 and again in 2010.  So, returning to Lehman Center, located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, on Saturday May 10th at 8:00 pm, the day before Mother’s Day, will be like old home week for the musical star.

The Lifetime Achievement Award winner is best known for his chart-topping recording of “Light My Fire” which catapulted him to pop super stardom in 1968.  The famed tenor possesses an unmistakable voice and has been influencing pop, soul and Latin music for over two generations, singing in English, Spanish and Italian.  His mega-hits include “Che Sera” and “Feliz Navidad.”  Feliz Navidad has been among the “25 Greatest Holiday Songs of the Century” noted ASCAP. Jose has recorded forty-five gold and platinum records and received nine Grammy Awards.  He has garnered countless honors and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“I continue to count my blessings,” says Jose.  “America has been good to me.  My fans are important to me.  But I cannot leave God out, because without God, nothing can happen.  So I do not take my stardom for granted. I try to remain humble.  I think part of being a good entertainer is never forgetting your beginnings so I continue to appreciate everyone who helped me along the way,” stated the very humble Jose who was born blind into humble beginnings in Lares, Puerto Rico in 1945.

jose-felicianodark400.jpg “My parents were concerned how I was going to make a living but fortunately I took a liking to the guitar and with continued practice, I perfected it.  Having been born into meager circumstances, I listened to the blues.  I understood the music of Muddy Waters.  I tried to combine my Latin roots with my soul roots.  Outside of Spanish music, I was influenced by singers like Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and I listened to a lot of Motown and was very impressed by Stevie Wonder who wrote a lot of his own compositions.  It took a while, but I finally began to write some of my own music as well,” remarked Feliciano.

Feliciano’s major break was in the Spanish market when, after an amazing performance at the 1966 Mar del Plata Festival in Argentina, RCA executives in Buenos Aires asked him to stay and record an album of Spanish music. His first single, “Poquita Fe” was a smash hit, and “Usted” was even bigger.  Infusing long-time standard boleros with his own guitar and vocal styling, he became the teen idol of the day.  “Being a teen idol was wonderful but it could be scary too.  I could feel hands touching me from all directions and sometimes I would become disorientated.  Finally I worked out a routine where my people would open the car door and form a barrier and I would just run straight ahead until I felt the car and jump in.  This became the routine after every performance,” recalled Feliciano of his teenage idol days.

Feliciano became a star throughout Central and South America, as well as in Mexico and the Caribbean.  When he met producer Rich Jarrard, it was Jarrard who encouraged the singer to record a Doors’ song “Light My Fire.”  By the time he was 23, José Feliciano had performed the song throughout most of the world and earned five Grammy nominations, winning two for his album Feliciano.  That same year (1968), José caught the world by surprise when he became the first artist to ever stylize and publicly perform the “National Anthem.” It went on to chart the Top-40.  With his own style of acoustic guitar, jazz and American vocal inflections, Jose created the pathway for new generations of stylization of the anthem.

In 2008, his album Señor Bachata won a Latin Grammy for Best Contemporary Tropical Album as well as a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Album.  Fans have enjoyed countless Feliciano songs, which include “Rain”, “Chico and the Man”, “California Dreaming”, “Destiny”, “Affirmation”, “Ay Cariño”, “Ponte A Cantar”, “Cuando El Amor Se Acaba” and “Porque Te Tengo Que Olvidar?.” His latest release in 2012, was The King, a tribute to Elvis Presley.

Tickets for the show can be purchased by calling the LehmanCenter box office at 718-960-8833 or by going on line at

Deardra Shuler is a well published journalist who has profiled celebrities and written about people of note for many years. In addition to her column at, she is the host of her radio show “Topically Yours” on Interested parties can acquire info regarding Deardra through,, Facebook and Google. Contact her via: [email protected].

henry simmons

People of Note: ‘From the Rough’ … in Theaters Now

HenrySimmons2300.jpg*Actor Henry Simmons took time out of his busy schedule to talk with this journalist about his upcoming movie, “From the Rough,” a movie he stars in with Taraji P. Henson, Michael Clarke Duncan and Tom Felton.  The movie opened Friday, April 25th.

The film depicts the true life story of Catana Starks, a female Tennessee State men’s golf coach who overcame incredible odds and deep-seated prejudice to become “the first” African-American woman ever to coach an all-men’s team at a collegiate level.

Henry Stark’s character Kendrick Paulsen, Jr., is the antagonist to the Taraji Henson character of Cantana Starks, believing that Starks could not handle the position of a men’s golf coach. Simmons talked about his attraction to the movie and about the role he played.  “When I first read the script, I initially thought it was a story that took place in the 1950s and 60s and was shocked to see it took place in the 1980s.  I was shocked to realize that people of color still face those types of barriers.  It’s really is a shame, and for that reason I wanted to be apart of the story and get the story out there so people understand .that these things are not part of the past but go on in our recent history” remarked Henry.

Born in Stamford, Ct, the son of Aurelia and Henry Simmons, Sr., Henry is one of three children. Simmons earned a basketball scholarship to Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire where he earned a business degree.  After college Henry took a job in financial management but it didn’t last because Simmons was attracted to acting first and foremost.

Simmons’ first acting gig was as a hot-headed youth in the movie “Above the Rim” with Tupac  Shakur.  He went on to appear in movies and TV, most notably as Detective Baldwin Jones on the ABC police drama “NYPD Blue.”  He also played Queen Latifah’s boyfriend in the 2004 action/comedy film “Taxi.” He had a leading role in “Shark,” a CBS drama starring James Woods. Simmons also appeared in World’s Greatest Dad”, “Man Up!” and besides “From the Rough,” his next movie will be “No Good Deed,” starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson.


“Professionally I enjoyed the opportunity to play someone in From The Rough, that I rarely get a chance to play.  Someone who is perceived as evil, I guess.  That is a color I don’t normally play.  I want to stretch and grow as an actor and this role presented that opportunity.  I did not have a problem playing the character but did have a problem with the character. People like that whatever their reasons may be, may have good intentions or what they believe are good intentions.  My character felt he was doing his best for the school by removing Ms. Starks from her job.  But actually what he was doing was destroying people’s lives, “remarked the talented actor.  “I tried to show that this man was racked with insecurity.  His insecurity was one of the reasons he had a problem with strong women.  I think one of his other issues was he felt unappreciated.  You know it’s funny but you cannot work to get respect.  However, if you do your work respectfully, than you gain respect.  If you do things looking for respect or look for approval that is where it causes problems. You have to work to the best of your ability and let things fall where they may.”

“From the Rough” was actor Michael Clark Duncan’s last movie.  Henry Simmons talked about working with the soulful Mr. Duncan.  “When Michael Clark Duncan passed it was an absolute shock. I knew that he was sick but I thought he was going to be OK.  But when he passed, I was in shock for days.  I couldn’t understand how a man so good with such a big heart, so giving and generous, a great man could be taken away,” remarked Henry.  “I prayed for Michael, he stayed on my mind; I just could not believe he died.  But I was so grateful to have had the chance to work with him. Professionally, when Michael showed up on the set he brought an element of warmth that was not present in the script.  The man was so talented.  Personally it was a pleasure knowing a man like that.  He walked into a room and filled the room with his voice, his personality and his warmth.  The man loved life; you could see it in his smile.  You could see his heart.  He was a gentle giant. That is what he was.  He will be missed.”

Mr. Simmons did not meet Cantana Stark during the filming of the movie. “I did have an opportunity to meet Ms Starks at the premiere of the movie.  She seemed a woman of intelligence, class, and strength. There is a great deal of warmth about her.  She is a woman who commands respect and certainly deserves respect,” stated the actor whose movie “No Good Deed,” will be out in September.


Fellow cast members in “From the Rough” include Tom Felton, known for his role in Harry Potter, LeToya Luckett (original member of Destiny’s Child), John Bailey (Little John), Justin Chon, Paul Hodge and Ben Youcef.

Interested parties can learn more about FROM THE ROUGH via or to listen to my radio show interview on, Rainbow Soul, see–actor-henry-simmons

Deardra Shuler is a well published journalist who has profiled celebrities and written about people of note for many years. In addition to her column at, she is the host of her radio show “Topically Yours” on Interested parties can acquire info regarding Deardra through,, Facebook and Google. Contact her via: [email protected].